When Jefferson Community College signed an agreement in February with St. John Fisher College, Rochester, to bring a doctoral degree to Watertown, the partnership meant JCC students could earn a doctorate without leaving the community.
Both schools trumpeted the pact with a major media announcement. But within months, the program in executive leadership was quietly killed by St. John Fisher because of low enrollment.
Its not our program, JCC President Carole A. McCoy said. I suggested to them that they do a press release, and they chose not to.
The information was not disclosed until a reporter asked for an update on the program Thursday. St. John Fisher had a prepared statement that noted the low enrollment and sent it to the Times when requested.
The College is very grateful to JCC President Dr. Carole McCoy for her interest in Fisher and her support throughout the process, the press release reads. We continue to be impressed with the (Jefferson Higher Education Program) model as a way to provide collaborative educational offerings that benefit the regions workforce and economic development.
Mrs. McCoy said she had a phone conversation with St. John Fisher President Donald E. Bain a couple of weeks ago about his decision but does not remember the date.
Im terribly disappointed, and I asked them to try to run it, but they didnt have the enrollment, Mrs. McCoy said.
St. John Fisher Senior Communications Specialist Kate M. Torok said the college hoped to enroll 15 students but did not have a number for how many actually signed up for the program.
One of the programs potential students was Jill M. Pippin, JCCs dean of continuing education. She said she was looking forward to starting classes next week and earning a doctorate in about two years before she heard the bad news.
It was very disappointing, she said. St. John Fisher decided it on their own.
It is not clear why there were not enough people interested to warrant a program. After the idea of a partnership was brought up by an alumnus, St. John Fisher conducted research in the north country to see if any of its doctorate programs were flexible enough to suit an appropriate number of applicants from Fort Drum in addition to the surrounding community. When the memorandum was signed in February, representatives from both colleges were optimistic about the start of the program just months away in May.
Establishing educational partnerships and extension sites is one of the ways we intend to achieve mission-consistent and fiscally responsible enrollment growth for the college, Mr. Bain said after signing the agreement. By offering the education doctorate in executive leadership at JCC, we are one step closer to that goal.
Despite the disappointment, Mrs. McCoy said, she still believes a doctoral degree is essential for JCC, whether the partnership is with St. John Fisher or another college.
I do believe theres a need for a doctorate degree in the community, Mrs. McCoy said. If theyre not able to do it, were going to look at what else is possible.